Your mental and emotional health are just as important as physical health—it’s difficult to have one without the other. As we here in the Pacific Northwest face a very apparent shift in seasons from summer to fall, the concept of change and adjustment is all around. Learning to adjust to the change in weather offers important lessons in dealing with the continual changes we face in life.
If you’re a native or adopted Washingtonian, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is probably not a new concept to you. This type of depression occurs during the fall and winter months when there is less natural sunlight. It is a yearly affliction that is slowly creeping up on many of our friends and neighbors. Treatments like light therapy and anti-depression medication can help, but what if your changes in mood isn’t SAD? What if your changes in mood aren’t from changes in season?
As we all know from our own personal life experiences, change happens and whether we know it or not, it’s happening all the time. Some changes are small and we are able to “go with the flow;” other times, change can really throw us for a loop. So how do you deal with life-altering change and make the most out of it?
Change is often not easy, whether it is physical (an injury or aging) or emotional (loss of a loved one or a change at work.) It is often not expected. And it often makes us feel out of control. What we all (myself included) need to realize is that it is okay to feel challenged by change and ask for help. Whether you recognize it or not, you are surrounded by people who will support you, from physical and mental healthcare providers to family, friends and coworkers. These are the people that can help you through change, so if you need it, consider asking for help and be open to receiving it.
Here are a few tips for dealing with change:
- Try a journal: Get your thoughts out on paper. Share them with people if you feel comfortable. (Ed. note - there are also many places online that you can share your thoughts and feelings electronically if you are comfortable doing so.)
- Find an artistic or physical outlet: Do you like painting or running? Make sure to find a way to make time to enjoy these activities. Block out time for yourself. This can also help you feel in control when other parts of your life seem out of your hands.
Seek medical help if you have trouble adjusting to change. Your primary care doctor can be a great resource to point you in the right direction.
The change in seasons is one of the most beautiful times of the year and it is a good reminder that change isn’t all bad. Even if it is difficult to find the beauty in change sometimes, with support from family and healthcare providers, and an extra focus on “me time,” we can all learn to “weather” change gracefully.